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What We Can Control in the Midst of Food Inflation

May 03, 2023 07:30AM ● By Debra Caffrey

Earlier today I saw something I have never seen before—an absolute record high number on the register for my grocery bill. Despite the fact that being a savvy grocery shopper is my biggest superpower, even I cannot escape what current inflation is doing to my budget. I think part of what is bothering us all so much about inflation is the loss of control—something I hate! Having a sense of mastery over my finances makes me feel calm and in control, and what I’m spending right now on food is doing the exact opposite—giving me anxiety and a lack of power! We cannot stop buying groceries or eating, so how can we counteract raising prices? We can’t control costs, but we can control certain habits to help offset the expenses. Here are some aspects of grocery shopping where we have all the power:

  • Avoiding Waste: Eat the leftovers, repurpose scraps of food, freeze small amounts of this or that, watch expiration dates. These tiny habits should be a pillar of how your kitchen runs, and if you visualize throwing actual money in the garbage every time you waste small amounts of food, you will start to prioritize waste-avoidance!
  • Shopping Less Frequently: When you go to the store less often, you spend less on items you’re picking up on impulse or a perceived need. Trust me on this, you will spend less money overall on groceries by making bigger, less frequent trips to the store!
  • Meal Planning: Regain a sense of control by mastering the true art of meal planning. It is an investment in both your time and your money because it provides a blueprint for your schedule that you can work around if need be, and you’ll feel satisfied that you’re buying and eating what’s been planned for.
  • Inventorying: Simply put, shop your kitchen first! Plan meals around what you already have in the house first before thinking of new things to cook or buy. Each grocery trip should be an opportunity to compliment what’s in the house already so you know you’re not wasting what you have already spent money on.
  • Comparing Unit Prices: Spend a few seconds comparing the unit cost – the price per measurement such as pound or ounce – before committing to an item or brand. For instance, there might be a special on buying the store brand’s eggs that looks like a deal, but perhaps a brand name’s 18 count carton has a better price per pound.
Finally, even though it seems like we’re spending our life savings on groceries, ultimately it is still cheaper to cook and eat at home than dining out too frequently. It’s not that we all don’t deserve a break from cooking sometimes, but these should be occasional treats. If we commit to meal planning and not wasting food, we’re still empowering ourselves to be smart shoppers and eaters!
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